Good works – Unequal rewards for unequal service

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good worksWhy should Christians be concerned about good works?

Good works, are they really necessary? Once we get over the difficulty of admitting that receiving rewards for good works is a spiritual matter and not reserved for the least noble among us and that God even encourages the idea of producing good works for heavenly rewards, it is necessary to also recognize that God doesn’t treat or reward individuals with a collective point of view.  God will treat every child, every begotten spiritual son, on the basis of his ability and faithfulness with the opportunities that he has been given. This implies that God will distribute unequal rewards for unequal service or good works.

It is interesting to observe the attitude that the world assumes in each generation.  In these first decades of the 21st century there is an ever growing attitude that it is somehow wrong or immoral to encourage competition, so that some win and other’s lose.  The level of education has fallen so much in the United States that many young Americans are barely literate yet make it through school.  The “system” can’t bring itself to make the poor dears face up to failure if they don’t study properly during their formative years in school.  In recent years, we have witnessed the deplorable attitudes of unionized schoolteachers who get the best employee benefits without having to show any competency in exercising their profession.  This just shows the despicable attitude that modern society has nurtured in these people so that they think that somehow the rest of the working class of society owes them because they have the right to have privileges that others do not receive.

We are in a societal movement that preaches rights rather than worth.  Honest working people have been shaken down so that those who refuse to work for a living can have food and transportation.  You can always tell what is antagonistic to the character of God by observing what is valued by secular society.  Want more examples:  A beauty pageant contestant is disqualified to take the crown because she thinks that gay marriage is inferior to heterosexual marriage.  The rules have just been changed.  It isn’t enough that women used to be judged principally by their physical beauty as if they had anything to do with that, now they have to embrace tolerance to any and all types of lifestyles condemned by biblical standards and praise that which is reasonably repulsive to the mainstream members of society. The world of the 21st century rewards cowardice, and lack of conviction.  The only tolerated convictions are those that mirror the values of the “high priests” of worldly society (homosexuals, hair brained Hollywood movie stars, and eastern mystics among other anti-Judeo Christian types of individuals.)

It all comes down to a hostility to the thinking that we will receive in proportion to what we are able to do and produce and to what we have been given to start with: or in other words: there will be unequal rewards for unequal service, many good works will result in much reward, few good works will result in less reward and no good works will result in yes, you guessed it, no rewards.

What Jesus said about reward for good works

Jesus laid it out in simple language:

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Matthew 16:27 

Let’s consider the context of this statement by looking at the three previous verses:

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

It is absolutely fundamental to recognize to whom Jesus was speaking here.  He said this to His disciples: “If any of you decides to be my follower (naturally no unregenerate man would think of following Christ) you must deny yourself first, then take up your cross and then follow me.”  This is the cost of following Christ.  To qualify as a follower of Christ one has to deny himself.  Christ has no use for those who wish to preserve themselves.  Through Christ’s words we can perceive that He would really prefer that we don’t even begin following Him unless we are clear that we will have to give up our own preferences and prejudices.

The cross is an instrument of death, a symbol of the constant need of the disciple to die to his individual self.  This is the price that must be paid to follow Christ.  However along with the price that must be paid to be a disciple there is also a reward attached to it.  Not only that, if one doesn’t pay the price of denying himself and “losing himself” for the sake of Christ, he will only end up losing it while all the time trying to keep it.  In other words, every man will lose his life one way or another.  The disciple is given a choice, lose it now through the sacrifice that sometimes is necessary to produce good works, and get it back latter with reward, or try to keep it now and lose it later with punishment and discipline and a sense of loss.  Even if we were able to gain the whole world, Jesus added, it wouldn’t be worth it, we would still lose everything forevermore.  Or in other words, the most you can have now is the whole world, but for how long?  Is it worth a thousand years of loss in the kingdom?  You be the judge.

When the Lord returns according to our text in Matthew 16:27 He will reward every man according to his works whether good works or evil.  Are you ready for the return of the Lord?  Are you prepared for the lot you have earned in the kingdom?  I suspect if you are like me, you will want to invest more of your life, material goods and energy in multiplying the talents you have received from the Lord in order to produce more good works.

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